Workshop to Focus on Working with the Media

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Patricia Clark, MS

With the increase in opioid abuse and some states legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana, more and more addiction medicine specialists find themselves talking to members of the news media seeking their expertise, and many are not prepared for the conversation. A Friday workshop aims to change that.

Workshop 1, “How to Work (and Win) With the Media” will explain how the media operates and how physicians should interact with media representatives. It will be presented from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm Friday in Orlando Ballroom IV, Lower Level.

“The chances of physicians getting through their professional years without talking to the press are slim to none, so you better get some media training early. When there is a reporter on the phone or a camera crew at the door, it’s too late,” said Patricia A. Clark, MS, who will lead the session. She has 20 years of experience in media training and is the owner of Communications Strategies, Ogden Dunes, Indiana.

The workshop will start with the basics, explaining what reporters need when they contact a physician for a quote or a sound bite.

“I find that often, physicians have some unreal expectations about reporters and don’t understand what their job is,” Clark said. “Reporters are not your friends. They are not necessarily your enemies, but they are not your friends. Physicians are always a little disappointed when a reporter does not understand medicine, Medicare, reimbursement, or ICD-10. If they knew those terms, they would be called doctors. That is not their role. Like physicians, they are simply professionals trying to do their jobs.”

Much of the focus during the presentation will be on television, but the message is the same for newspapers, magazines, and radio, she said, adding, “But with television, you add that visual.”

“We will talk about how to appear before a camera, how to sit and stand, how to control the camera’s shot and, most importantly, how to develop and successfully deliver your message,” Clark said.

Her main focus will be on message development, along with how to handle tough questions by reframing the interview.

“It is not enough to dodge a question,” Clark said. “I want to give everyone tools for developing their own messages and how to practice that in a small environment.

“There are basic mistakes physicians make. One is not returning a reporter’s phone call, and another is responding to a prickly question with ‘No comment.’ Never say ‘No comment’ because that pretty much implies guilt.”

The fast-paced workshop will even put some attendees in front of the camera, making it a truly interactive learning experience.

“A lot of physicians fail to see an interview as an opportunity to deliver a message to the public,” Clark said. “Good media relations not only helps physicians tell their specialty’s story but can also be a great marketing boost for their practices.”